Lisa McDonald

MA Creative Writing, 2015

Lisa McDonald

I would encourage anyone who is considering the course to grab the opportunity with both hands. It massively improves your writing, enthuses you, and makes success and publication seem a possibility rather than just a hopeless dream

Before studying Creative Writing, Lisa was a teacher for twenty four years. She taught mainly A-Level English Literature and Language.

I decided to pursue an MA in Creative Writing because I had been writing for my own pleasure for many years and I wanted to get better at it. I had also been teaching others how to write but much of what I was telling them was, it seemed to me, just a bit dull, a bit safe and probably outdated. I needed some professional direction and also some impetus to publish the novel that I had been working on.

I was attracted to Oxford Brookes because I liked the mix of poetry and prose, and the very varied but disciplined approach. I wanted to improve my own writing but I was also attracted to the idea of reading and discussing writing with other people, both professional and amateur writers, published and not, traditional and contemporary.

I am in a super group and we all get on very well. We set up an online forum in which we discuss our work which has been immensely helpful. The group and all of the teaching fellows have been very encouraging and supportive. We have also had some marvelous visiting speakers who have been interesting and deeply inspiring. I work hard all week in preparation for our teaching session but, every Thursday, I wake up excited at the prospect of the day ahead which I know will be spent getting better at what I most want to do in life, and all in the company of good friends.

The course has definitely changed the way I write for the better. It has tightened it up and made me find better, more focused, ways of expressing myself. It has also increased my confidence. Once you have braved the agony of reading your work out loud to a group in order for them to discuss it and then found that you can actually come out the other end, not just unscathed but encouraged, you can face anything.

The Brookes course has also encouraged me to undertake private research in order to discover more about the craft for myself. It has also inspired me by introducing me to some amazing writers through both reading and analyzing their works, and also through the seminars and workshops given by the Creative Writing Fellows. In addition, we have been hugely encouraged to enter competitions. It’s exciting but it also forces us to work to deadlines, remit and word length – all very useful skills for a writer.

I have several plans for the future. I hope to finish and publish my novel. I hope to continue with further studies in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes. I hope to win some creative writing competitions. I hope to teach Creative Writing. I have already set up a local Writing Circle and I hope to continue with that.

I would encourage anyone who is considering the course to grab the opportunity with both hands. It massively improves your writing, enthuses you, and makes success and publication seem a possibility rather than just a hopeless dream.